The Cumberland-North Yarmouth School District School plans to make some changes in its emergency response plan during its annual review of the protocols, Superintendent Jeff Porter said.

The review follows three weapons-related incidents during the first week of December in SAD 51 schools, but it had been scheduled prior, he said.

“Our Safety and Security Committee had already made revamping the emergency plan a goal of their work this year, independent of the recent instances,” Porter said.

The three incidents at Greely High School and Greely Middle School 6-8 did not involve any guns on campus, Porter said. After students told the staff about their concerns, Cumberland Police were notified. The district’s school resource officer, Amie Owen, was also consulted in all three cases and was “actively involved” in one of them, he said. Owen works in all district schools and is a patrol officer in Cumberland as well.

Porter declined to release further details about the incidents.

The Safety and Security Committee develops a yearly emergency response plan that is reviewed and approved by the SAD 51 Board of Directors. The plan is not made public for safety reasons, said Porter, who leads the 15-member committee that includes Cumberland’s police and fire chiefs.


“One improvement that we will be making is including more of our current mental health wrap-around supports in our emergency plan, among others,” he told the Forecaster.

The district has positions in place to address the mental health of students, including a risk assessment coordinator who evaluates students referred by other staff for “worrisome behaviors,” he said.  As of Dec. 8, 23 risk assessments had been conducted since the beginning of the school year, compared to 26 assessments during the entire 2019-2020 school year.

During the 2020-21 academic year, when students were virtual for much of the time due to the pandemic, there were 21 assessments.

“As educators, we have seen the effects of the pandemic on our students, whether it is relearning social structures, continuous reminders about basic school rules, or stopping to reteach foundational skills that may have been missed or forgotten along the way,” Porter told the Portland Press Herald last week.

The district also has a full-time, doctoral-level school psychologist, who works with the school’s mental health coordinator,  and a board-certified behavior analyst who provides support on behavior-related matters. In addition, six social workers and eight mental health counselors work for the district. The ratio of counselors to students in the high school is 1-to-205; for grades 6-8 it’s 1-to-240.

The Safety and Security Committee will release more information on revamped protocols over the next couple of months, Porter said.


In a video message to the community after the gun incidents, Porter said teachers “are the first layer of support if they hear something that’s worrying.”

“During situations like these three instances, where students immediately brought that information to a school staff member, we make sure we have a team approach to making sure these instances are handled swiftly and deep supports are in place for the future, if they’re not already in place to begin with,” Porter said.

According to the Institute of Education Sciences 2020 Report on Indicators of School Crime and Safety, in 2019, 2.8% of students in grades nine through 12 reported carrying a weapon on school property in the previous 30 days.

The report also showed 7.4% of students said they were threatened or injured with a weapon on school property in the past 12 months; 5% of students ages 12 through 18 reported that they avoid certain places in school for fear of being attacked or harmed.

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